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“That the People May Live”: The Life and Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk, Holy Man of the Lakota
Norman Williams Public Library
This lecture explores the life and legacy of Nicholas Black Elk (c. 1866-1950), the Lakota holy man made famous by the book Black Elk Speaks. Author and ethnographer Damian Costello begins with Black Elk’s Great Vision and his struggle to discern his calling during the events of the Great Sioux War. During his long life, Black Elk lived out his vision in three overlapping roles: as a traditional healer, a Catholic teacher, and a revivalist of Indigenous traditions. Amid great tragedy, Black Elk wove these three strands into one beautiful life exemplifying survival, hope, and reconciliation. The talk is based on Costello’s extensive historical research, extended residency in Indian Country, and continuing conversations with Lakota elders.